Water crisis grapples Koh Samui as rising tourist demands amplify freshwater shortage

Photo Courtesy of digitalnomads.world

Koh Samui, a popular tourist resort island in Surat Thani province, is grappling with a significant water crisis as declining rainfall and amplified water demands take their toll.

Many of the water reserves on the island, such as the district’s Phru Na Mueang and Phru Krajud reservoirs, along with the renowned Hin Lard waterfall, have seen their water levels drop significantly, indicative of a severe water crisis. This dip has disrupted clean water production, as the total volume of freshwater available continues to dwindle.

Presently, amid the ongoing water crisis, the island’s local freshwater reserves are deemed sufficient for its residents’ needs for just a mere 30 days. The scarcity has also started wreaking havoc on the region’s thriving tourism industry.

According to Ratchaporn Poonsawat, the chair of the Tourism Association of Koh Samui, the escalating dearth might force the hand of tourism business owners to buy freshwater, resulting in a surge in operation costs. He said…

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“The mounting costs associated with the shortage could also adversely affect the livelihood of hospitality workers on the island. If water supplies continue to deplete, these hard-working individuals might be forced to bear higher living costs.”

As the water crisis intensifies, the future looks even more uncertain, with a projected rise in costs expected as resources continue to deplete, exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon resulting in further rainfall shortages.

Ratchaporn also voiced concerns about the drought’s impending impact on the island’s tourism sector this coming month and the next, coinciding with the start of the much-awaited high season in the latter half of the current year.

In the past five months, the famous tourist island has hosted at least one million international visitors amidst the current water crisis. The shortage of water has also intruded upon the everyday lives of locals. Residents report that irregular tap water flow leads them to pay between 250 to 300 baht to procure around 2,000 litres of water for daily usage, reported Bangkok Post.

Prateep Kusolwattana, the director-general of Provincial Waterworks Authority 4, revealed that the water supply stations located in the Phru Na Muang reservoir and Hin Lard waterfall have been producing 15,000 cubic metres of freshwater daily for consumption on the island.

To address the water crisis issue, the Authority aims to supply an additional 24,000 cubic metres of water from Surat Thani on the mainland via an underwater pipeline to Koh Samui.

According to Prateep, the water supply operation started this past weekend and will be conducted every other day until they achieve a resolution to the current water crisis.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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